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Press Release

02/23/2016 10:00 AM ET
MLBPA to celebrate its 50th anniversary as a labor organization
Players Association will commeorate its golden anniversary as a union

New York -- The Major League Baseball Players Association today announced plans to commemorate its Golden Anniversary as a union representing Major League Baseball Players, and it also unveiled a series of logos designed to honor its rich 50-year history as one of the world's premier labor organizations.

Although originally established by players in the early 1950's, the MLBPA wasn't recognized as a union until 1966, when Major Leaguers hired Marvin Miller, then an economist with the Steelworkers Union, as their Association's first Executive Director.

Since 1966, and working through the MLBPA, generations of Major Leaguers have made numerous advancements on behalf of their fellow Players to improve their rights, benefits and workplace conditions. Over the course of their union's history, Major Leaguers have forged and maintained a level of solidarity rarely seen in the history of the labor movement. To this day, every Major Leaguer desires to use the collective bargaining process to leave the game better for those who follow.

Under the guidance of Executive Directors Miller, Donald Fehr, Michael Weiner and, presently, Tony Clark, the first former Player to head the union, the Players have helped serve as stewards of the game. Through the collective bargaining process, as well as through the MLBPA's own initiatives and programs, Major Leaguers, despite their diverse interests and backgrounds, have helped propel the sport to on-field and off-field accomplishments and levels of growth unimaginable 50 years ago. Today, the MLBPA and its members play an active role in working with Major League Baseball to help improve the game and increase the game's popularity and participation domestically and abroad.

Executive Director Clark said, "I'm honored to serve the Players as the Executive Director of their union as we embark on our 50th Anniversary protecting and advancing the rights of all Players. Because of the personal sacrifices of hundreds of Players who have played Major League Baseball over the past 50 years, we have a compelling story rich in history and achievements to celebrate."

A few of the MLBPA's highlights over the past 50 years include:

  • --In 1968, the Players negotiate the sport's first collective bargaining agreement.

  • --In 1969, the Players unanimously vote to support Curt Flood's legal case as he challenges the sport's reserve clause all the way to the Supreme Court.

  • --In 1970, the Players negotiate a provision into the Basic Agreement (CBA) that provides for an outside neutral arbitrator to resolve disputes.

  • --In 1975, the Messersmith-McNally grievance is resolved through arbitration, effectively ending the reserve clause and launches the era of free agency in baseball.

  • --In 1980, Players negotiate terms and conditions of their pension and benefit plan that allows Major Leaguers to become vested as members of the plan after just one day of service.

  • In 1968, the Players negotiate the sport's first collective bargaining agreement.

  • --In 1996, the Players create the Players Trust, the first 501 c 3 organization of its type in professional sports, which to date has contributed $20 million in support of causes around the world important to the Players as a group.

  • --In 1998, after lobbying by more than 100 players, Congress enacts the Curt Flood Act, providing baseball players the same rights under antitrust laws enjoyed by other professional athletes.

  • --In 2005, Players lead the way in partnering with MLB to create and jointly operate the World Baseball Classic to foster the international growth of the game.

  • --In 2011, the MLBPA works closely with MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association on an agreement to provide more than 900 men who played less than four years between 1947 and 1979 with two-year payments of up to $10,000 in each year.

  • --In 2015, Players partner with MLB to create a $30 million youth initiative to improve the caliber, effectiveness and availability of amateur baseball and softball programs in North America, especially among minority populations.

The MLBPA plans to celebrate its history over the course of 2016 in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to:

  • --A major celebration and party recognizing contributors to the MLBPA's success at its annual All-Star party in San Diego this July;

  • --Publication of a commemorative journal and stampsl

  • --Open house at its soon to be renovated headquarters in Manhattan;

  • --Editorially through its website and social media platforms (@MLB_Players) using #MLBPA50, and including audio and video oral histories.